Genesee County sheriff deputy remains focused on career in tough times

A year of division between community and police, brought focus to a mid-Michigan police officer.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 6:18 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (5/14/2021) - Remembering those who gave their all, families of those who lost their lives in the line of duty, their fellow officers, county officials and community members attended the 61st annual “Peace Officers Memorial Day” Friday.

The event, held at Flint Memorial in Genesee County, honors the area’s fallen officers. In total, Genesee County police agencies have seen 19 line of duty deaths.

Several of the speakers mentioned the ever-growing divide between police and the communities they serve, prompting ABC12 to speak with one local officer about his dedication to service and unity.

“We see all these names on these walls and the things that they’ve dedicated and things that they’ve given to the world and to their communities that they serve,” Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputy Deon Smith said.

He shared he was humbled, while standing at attention to join his community to honor fellow officers killed in the line of duty over the years.

Smith joined the Sheriff’s Office 7.5 years ago as a deputy and a member of the honor guard.

“I try to always remember and say, Deon, add value and always be remembered for what you do,” he shared.

Smith said the law enforcement profession chose him. He’s always loved to serve people, something he said his Grandma instilled in him.

“I feel like if I don’t give it my all on a daily basis, somebody’s family may suffer for me not doing the right thing or giving it my all,” Smith explained.

That’s a weight he carries proudly.

Smith added that he knew this career choice was the right decision a few years ago when the opportunity to become a School Resource Officer opened up.

“My role is to come in, to help bridge that gap and also be a presence,” Smith explained. “Not only do we serve and we protect, but we also -- we unify people.”

Unity, he said, is needed now more than ever. Smith believes it starts with setting that example for the young people he works with every day.

We know the division grew larger this time last year, as the world learned of George Floyd’s death. A Minneapolis police officer now convicted in is murder after cameras captured him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

“The times we’re living in right now requires that, requires that the young men and women see me,” Smith added.

The Deputy said this past year hasn’t been discouraging, rather it’s helped him become more focused.

“That was the, actually the stepping stone to continue to fight and do the right thing and live a righteous life,” Smith explain. “We have so many eyes on us. So many people watching us, you know -- our decision making and what we do. But I say, if you live in a righteous life and you know ... you’re doing what’s right for the right reasons, with good intentions, then everything else will work itself out.”

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